Peter, obviously there is no way that I, the mass of conservatives, or anyone else can hold a presidential candidate to his promise if he decides to renege on it once safely in the White House. We have to rely on the honor of the candidate and the two-way loyalties that bind a party leader to his supporters.
“Nothing has been lost save honor,” said Jim Fisk–and we can all think of politicians who are Fiskites at heart. But promises have to be given and accepted at face value.
For that very reason, however, we need to be wary of a politician who either won’t give such a pledge or who does so in terms that scream “weasel” and “loophole.” After all, if we can’t hold a man to a clear promise, we certainly cannot hold him to a clever evasion.
Nothing in this theoretical discussion is intended to disparage Senator McCain. I take his previous evasions to signify a deep reluctance to give a clear promise that he does not really mean. So I would value such a promise correspondingly.
Maybe conservatives would wrongly refuse to accept his sincere assurances. Why not test them?